Throughout the month of December, we will be highlighting a film a day that has some tie into the holiday somehow. Some titles will be obvious, others won’t be. Some films will be good and, again, others won’t be. However, we think all titles are worth your time whether to give you chills inside your home or to make you drink more eggnog until you puke laughing.
Merry Christmas everyone! Jeremy passed out under the tree drunk on eggnog last night. 24 films being reviewed in a consecutive manner will do that to you. I’m happy to take over the final day.
Flashback to 1990. There was a film about a boy who armed himself with toys that he booby-trapped to capture/hurt an intruder in his house. Sound eerily familiar? Well, the movie I’m talking about is not Home Alone and outside of that brief summary, that’s as close as it gets to that film. No, today, I’m talking about a French film that I have been holding off all year from seeing for the first time, 36.15 Code Pére Noël (more on that title momentarily). I heard about the film earlier this year and if I were to give you one of those “blender” synopsis, 36.15 Code Pére Noël is Home Alone + Rambo: First Blood II + Die Hard mixed in with elements of The Shining. While it isn’t gory, the film plays it pretty straight as a thriller. To entice you more, let’s watch a trailer for the film.
I know what you are thinking, “Where was this film during my childhood?!?!”.
36.15 Code Pére Noël is a strange little film but it is a pretty taut little thriller that is uniquely directed. It is a film that feels like a tale of fantasy but is grounded in reality. Thomas, is the son of a very rich mother who runs a department store. Thomas is also a tech genius. Keep in mind this was back in 1989 and the little badass already has a device on his forearm that controls an internal CCTV system that he invented to try to get evidence of Santa Claus.
When his mom goes to work on Christmas Eve and tells Thomas to take care of his half-blind diabetic grandfather, you know Thomas isn’t going to have a good night. He hops on a pre-internet terminal service called Minitel, which was super popular in France, and starts asking Father Christmas – a.k.a. Santa – if he is real or not. This is where the title comes into play. From what I have read up on by dialing 3615 then Code: Pére Noël, he was able to get on a bulletin board and start asking “Father Christmas” some questions. On the other end is a psychotic dude that really just wants to be a kid again. Thomas is asked for his address and wisely bails out of the conversation by saying to visit his mother at the department store. Psychotic man-child gets a job as a Santa, gets his beard pulled off by some girl and ends up smacking her across the face. This is all witnessed by the boss, Thomas’ mom. Thomas’ mother fires the man-child and when he goes to pick up his final check, he finds out where the boss lady and Thomas live. He then quickly devises a plan to exact revenge by terrorizing or killing her son. Is it all too convenient? Yes, of course it is. Thomas sneaks downstairs to get a peek at Santa coming down the chimney and it goes downhill from there. You see, Santa didn’t come through the chimney, it’s the psychotic man-child. Now, to survive the night, Thomas suits up with fake knives, grenades and a gun. He runs through the mansion playing a cat and mouse game with the psychotic man-child.
To tell you any more may spoil the fun. The film has tons of stylistic flourishes and is very well directed considering how ridiculous this all sounds. It’s a tense little chase film and the kid already had the odds stacked against him and could have been seen as a brat but the actor who plays him is believable and likable. While some of the action montages – namely the booby trap set up – lack the impact that they should of had, this film is worth a watch. That is, if you can get your hands on it. The film was never released in North America a
nd there are a few VHS boots from France floating out on the internet. Hell, the movie is on YouTube but it doesn’t have English subtitles. This film does need to be seen more and I’m kind of surprised it has taken 25 years for it to get the minimal attention it has received.
[UPDATE – December 18, 2017] – Camera Obscura has given this film a Blu-Ray release just in time for the holidays! Order it from our friends at DiabolikDVD!